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Last Updated: Sunday, 5 October, 2003, 15:46 GMT 16:46 UK
Uganda baby flight sparks row
By Will Ross
BBC, Kampala

Uganda's President, Yoweri Museveni, has defended a decision to fly his daughter to Europe in the presidential jet in order to deliver her baby.

The media and opposition in Uganda saw this as a clear example of wasting state resources.

But Uganda's president has now written to defend his action.

President Yoweri Museveni
Museveni: Widely regarded as one of a "new breed" of African leaders
In a lengthy statement in the Sunday papers, Mr Museveni admits sending the presidential jet to Europe so that his daughter and daughter-in-law could deliver their babies.

But, while the Ugandan leader rebuffs claims that the recent return trip cost $90,000, many will still maintain that the $27,000 he claims it cost is still poor use of the country's resources.

An independent newspaper here suggested that the money could have been better spent invested in the purchase of mammogram machines to help detect breast cancer, or tens of thousands of mosquito nets to prevent malaria - two major killers in this cash-strapped country.

In his statement, the president declares that he detests a wasteful lifestyle, but goes on to say that "when it comes to security for myself and my family there is no compromise."

He then suggests that, as a leader, there have been enemy plots to kill him and he even describes some doctors in Uganda as hostile, who cannot be trusted to treat his family.

Despite Mr Museveni's explanation, his critics will view this whole episode as evidence that he is no longer living up to the tag of a "new breed" of African leader, but is displaying characteristics of much-criticised presidents from across the continent.

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